Ralph, an 80s video game villain unhappy with his scripted lot in life, sets out into his arcade's many universes to win himself a medal (and hopefully the respect of the people in his own game), but unwittingly unleashes a bug that threatens the very existence of his world and every game in the arcade. Wreck-it Ralph is a Toy Story-esque adventure set in the world of 80s and 90s arcades, a pop-art collage of action, comedy, nostalgia, and clever storytelling. As a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Ralph delivers an eye-popping HDR10 transfer along with a strong Dolby Atmos audio mix and all of the original supplements. Recommended.
(Written by Luke Hickman for the original Blu-ray review.)
The premise of Wreck-It Ralph isn't all that far off from Toy Story: each night, when arcades close their doors, all of the characters from the various video games come to life and reveal their true personalities. Some are exactly what you would expect, but others are completely against their character types. Our central character, Ralph (John C. Reilly), plays the villain in Fix-It Felix Jr., but his only desire is for the other characters in his game to look at him for who he really is, not as the in-game back guy.
After hitting rock bottom, Ralph learns he can gain the respect and friendship of his peers if he earns awards and medals like his nice guy in-game nemesis, Felix Jr. (Jack McBrayer). With this thought in mind, Ralph heads to the Gaming Central Station – the hub power strip that all of the games in the arcade are plugged into – and jumps into the scary and violent fictional game Hero's Duty to earn his well-deserved accolade. The brilliant thing about Wreck-It Ralph is that absolutely everything in the film serves a purpose. If something seems insignificant, just wait – it will definitely come back with a purpose that's essential to the plot. While the Hero's Duty sequence contains a lot of stuff that may appear as fluff, it's necessary for the plot.
Ralph is rocketed from Hero's Duty and crash lands in the saccharine-coated and colorful world of Sugar Rush where we meet the secondary character, a "dirty-haired little brat" named Vanellope (Sarah Silverman). With a glitch in her programming, Vanellope's in-game social status is identical to Ralph's – neither are accepted in their home games. Together, the two of them plot to supersede their not-so-great reputations.
With Ralph bouncing around other games, Fix-It Felix Jr. is left abandoned, which breaks the game. If Ralph doesn't return by the time the arcade's repairman arrives, the game will be unplugged and all the characters will either cease to exist or have to become homeless refugees in Game Central Station (like Q*bert). Being the best at fixing things, Felix sets off to track down Ralph and bring him back. When he meets the curvy lead character of Hero's Duty (Jane Lynch), the two race into Sugar Rush to track Ralph down.
The trailers might lead you to believe that one has to be familiar with the iconic arcade games from the '80s in order to enjoy Wreck-It Ralph. That's actually not the case. However, if you know those games, like the aforementioned Q*bert, you'll recognize a lot more of the background jokes than the viewers who don't. Once Ralph begins his journey, those silly and fun Easter Eggs are left aside and the film gets really good. The story is very well written, so much so that I didn't see the end coming. On top of that, like the title character, Wreck-It Ralph has a lot of heart.
Wreck-It Ralph is a true win for Disney Animation. It has a little something for everyone – young and old, boys or girls. Disney has successfully kept up with the times while telling a classic tale that won't soon be forgotten or dismissed.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Wreck-It Ralph returns to home video as a two-disc combo pack that includes one 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, a reprinting of the original 2013 Blu-ray, and a Digital Copy redemption code. To redeem, head over to RedeemDigitalMovie.com where you can unlock your code via Movies Anywhere, iTunes, Vudu, GooglePlay, Amazon Prime, FandangoNow. 4K streaming rights are included, and 4K playback is currently available via Vudu and FnadangoNow.
Wreck-It Ralph smashes his way onto 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with an eye-popping 2160p HDR10 presentation that may not render more perceivable detail than the Blu-ray, yet in taking full advantage of the format's wider color gamut, delivers a lusher and more vibrant transfer that's perfect for this material.
While many 2K-to-4K upconverts do reveal more detail -- much of this having to do with how those movies were originally captured and/or compressed -- CGI animation seems demonstrably capped at its native resolution. In that sense, Ralph follows in the footsteps of The Incredibles 4K releases in that its native resolution doesn't change, but the transfer clearly embraces the format's other capabilities. Notably, the 4K transfer lacks any signs of aliasing or banding, which you will catch on the Blu-ray.
Further, and more apparent, this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray benefits from boosted DCI P3 color capabilities as well as a more refined contrast. The shadows in Hero's Duty are richer and deeper while there's more delineation in the gradients around bright light sources in the Fix-It, Felix, Jr. universe. And those colors? Wow! The Sugar Rush land, in particular, is a resplendent world of pinks and pastels; it's like diving into a candy factory. Hero's Duty also gets boosted greens in their various laser beams. By comparison, the Wreck-It Ralph Blu-ray still looks good, but the colors are more faded.
At the end of the day, if you have a smaller 4K display or one incapable of rendering over 90% of the DCI P3 color space, you might not see this Wreck-It Ralph 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray as a worthy upgrade. But, if you've never owned this movie, or you have a more-capable 4K HDR display, Ralph is an often-gorgeous and eye-popping experience that could only be improved if Disney were to re-render the whole movie in native 4K (a very unlikely scenario).
Wreck-It Ralph races onto 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a strong new Dolby Atmos mix that suffers none of the issues of most recent Disney home entertainment audio mixes while offering an upgraded sense of immersion compared to the original 7.1 mix. Still, it lacks the overhead articulation we've come to appreciate in the format's best tracks.
Ralph has always sounded terrific on home video, blending clear vocal performances, precise sound effects panning, and enveloping musical cues. There's even a nice LFE presence, even if it's not of the heart-pounding sort that rattles walls and infuriates neighbors. In Dolby Atmos, everything that works about the original mix is still here -- effects articulately pan across the front soundstage and from front to rear speakers -- but with the added implementation of overhead sound placement, the mix now feels taller, fuller, and more enveloping. Pop music and orchestral elements now flow from all around as well as above the audience.
However, for semi-aggressive mixes like these, we would have liked to hear more effects make their way up over the listener as well. There are a few wooshes and blasts and crashes that wrap upwards as well as around, but we think there was more opportunity to build out the Ralph universe while fully embracing Atmos' capabilities. LFE could use a little more oomph as well.
Lastly, for anyone who has sworn off buying Disney movies because their recent soundtracks have suffered from volume and dynamic range issues, Wreck-It Ralph suffers from none of those issues. I didn't have to turn up the volume, and there's more consistent rear activity than, say, your average Marvel mix.
Audio option on the 4K disc are as follows: English Dolby Atmos, British English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, Francais 5.1 Dolby Digital, Espanol 5.1 Dolby Digital, Japanese 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus, Korean 5.1 Dolby Digital, & Chinese 5.1 Dolby Digital. Subtitles options include English, English for the Hearing Impaired, Francais, Espanol, Japanese, Korean, & Chinese.
Wreck-it-Ralph returns to home video with all the same supplements as its original Blu-ray, which can be found on this set's Blu-ray. The 4K UHD disc only includes audio, subtitle, & chapter selections. Here's what Luke had to say about the supplements back in 2013.
If you love video games or ever spent time in an arcade, Wreck-It Ralph was made for you. Yet, despite being with 80s/90s game references and characters, Ralph ultimately stands on its own thanks to a winning combination of clever storytelling, compelling character arcs, exciting action, and luscious visuals. It's a terrific movie.
As a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Wreck-It Ralph looks and sounds a lot like recent Disney 4K releases like The Incredibles. The HDR10 presentation (Dolby Vision available via the included Digital Copy) gets a boost in color, contrast, and fewer encoding issues, but doesn't display any new perceived detail. The Dolby Atmos mix is a strong effort (and a definite cut above Disney's string of weak, lifeless home video mixes), but lacks the overhead articulation and gut-punching LFE of the format's top-tier tracks. Supplements are the same.
If you've upgraded to a 4K TV and own a Dolby Atmos sound system, or have never owned Wreck-It Ralph on home video, this 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is Recommended.